Salchichón is a cured sausage made with lean pork, minced fat pork and is spiced mainly with pepper (ground or in whole grains).
One of the most characteristic features of salchichón is its intense and brilliant red color. Also, the cut is homogeneous, smooth and color is well linked, without presenting any weird discolorations. With a naked eye you can perfectly differentiate between pieces of meat, small cubes of fat and peppercorns (in case of not being ground).
Its red inside contrasts with its exterior in white formed of a light white flora created during drying process.
Salchichón has a firm and compact texture; it also has a delicate and sweet taste that contrasts with spicy spices, giving the aroma and flavor so characteristic.
When talking about salchichón always comes to our mind the one that comes from pork meat. However, this sausage can also be produced by mixing pork meat with cow or wild boar meats. We can even taste salchichón from other less common animals such as deer or horse, which have a more intense flavor.
It has started to become more popular turkey or chicken variants. These are a lower-fat option and taste smoother compared to the traditional one.
As a curiosity, there is also a variant for sweet lovers: chocolate salchichón. In this original dessert lean pork meat is replaced with chocolate, and fat is represented by nuts such as walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts. Yummy combination!
There are different varieties of this sausage.
- Vic Salchichón: When we hear about village Vic it is inevitably no to think about salchichón. Possibly it is the best known sausage in Spain that always attaches high quality.
This cold meat with designation of origin is produced in the region of La Plana de Vic, Catalonia.
It is made with pork ham, the leanest part of the animal, minced with fat that gives a smooth texture and distinctive flavor. This mixture is seasoned with salt, black peppercorns and ground white pepper. Once the piece is stuffed into natural casings, it is left to dry for 45 days in the breeze and cool air from the Montseny massif. Due to this process, the outside of the sausage whitens. This white appearance is one of its most distinctive features.
Normally this type of sausage is presented in a typical form called “velas" whose diameter and length ranges between 8 cm and 7 or 50 or 60 cm respectively.
Being a product with designation of origin, the label will have to be supplied by the Regulatory Council of the Designation I.G.P. "Salchichón or Llonganissa de Vic".
- Salchichón from Aragon: This traditional sausage comes from pigs raised in Teruel. It is also often called "Calamocha liver" because it also contains pork liver. It is seasoned with marjoram, nutmeg peel, black pepper and white pepper. Its gelatinous appearance differentiates it from others.
- Salchichón cular: This type of sausage is made in northern Spain and is done with a mixture of pork and spices. It is called "cular" since the mixture is stuffed into cular casings, the final part of the intestine of pig or cow.
- Salchichón Ibérico: Is the one that comes from Extremadura and Salamanca. It is made with lean Iberian pork meat mixed with pork fat, pepper, salt and oregano. As it happens to the other variants above, it is also left to air drying.
- Salami (Salame): This popular sausage of Italian origin is very similar to salchichón. It is made from a mixture of pork and beef seasoned and smoked or air dried.
There are many varieties of salami throughout Italy; some of them even have Protected Designation of Origin (P.D.O.).
Among the most popular salamis there are, for instance, salami Milano (Milan); Felino salami (from the village of Felino), highly valued for its quality; and salami Napoli (Naples), which contains beef and is spicier.
There is also a Hungarian variety of this sausage, highly valued internationally and is made primarily with pork seasoned with spices.
In Argentina salami is known as salame, and along with ham is one of the most popular cold meats of the region.
- Salchichón with pistachio: this is a variant of the traditional salchichón that has pistachios and is quite popular in Venezuela.
- Cooked or scalded salchichón: A European variant preparation. It has a very appetizing sight due to its intense pink color. Given its cooking should be consumed faster.
Within this group we find possibly the best known of all: Salchichón “cervecero” so typical of South American countries, especially Chile.
To prepare this tasty sausage first it is formed a mass from the lean pork and fat ground chopped. Then, it is seasoned with salt and some spices such as pepper (ground or not), nutmeg, coriander and cloves. Once it has been marinating for twenty-four hours, it is stuffed in a beef or pork intestinal and later hang for curing.
The healing process, which is done in areas where the temperature is controlled, can be smoked or simply air drying for several days.
It is easy to confuse Salchichón with other sausage meats such as longaniza (Catalan dried sausage) or fuet (Catalan thin dried sausage) since they are similar in appearance. Some simple guidelines will help us to differentiate them without any complications:
- Salchichón, Longaniza and Fuet: Due to their strong similarities (especially between salchichón and longaniza), this trio of sausages is often confused, making difficult to distinguish from with each other.
Fortunately, if you know their main difference, it would not be that much difficult to distinguish them at a glance. The product thickness is the key. The casing used in these three sausages has different calibers. Salchichón is the thickest, followed by the longaniza, and then a little further away, there is the fuet. The latter is easier to recognize because is the finest and thinnest of the three.
Another distinguishing feature is the maturating time used, which is directly related to the difference in diameter casings used. A larger diameter casing requires longer maturation.
If we focus on the spices used in flavoring, fuet is much easier to distinguish from their two companions as it normally does not usually carry pepper. Meanwhile, salchichón and longaniza usually have a flavor quite similar.
- Salchichón and salami: The main difference between both sausages is their origin. While salchichón comes from the Spanish cuisine, salami comes from the Italian one.
Also the diameter of the casing is another differentiating factor that helps us to tell them apart. Salchichón is much thinner and narrower than salami.
- Salchichón and chorizo: This pairing is one of the easiest to tell apart. Since their color is different it becomes so easy to distinguish them at a glance. The reason of this color difference lies in the flavoring used in their preparation and also the drying period.
In both sausages meat is minced, but in the case of salchichón it’s much finer.
Also the flavoring used is another big distinguishing. While salchichón chooses pepper and other hot spices, chorizo prefers paprika, garlic, oregano and nutmeg.
As a last differentiator, we find the drying time, so essential in chorizo as it will determine the quality of the product.
Salchichón is a food that has high nutritional benefits. Due to its high content of B vitamins (B1, B2 and B12), plus minerals like calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium, is highly recommended during childhood and adolescence. It helps the formation of bones and tissues, as well as combating anemia.
Its acid oleic content is recommended for our cardiovascular health and its monounsaturated fatty acids help to lower "bad" cholesterol.
It also contains lactic active plant, quite similar to the one that is found in yogurt which has recognized beneficial effects for our body.
It is recommended to incorporate salchichón into children’s and adult’s diets. Its great contribution of vitamin B and its high level in sodium help in obtaining energy especially when we need to recover after and intense workout.
In a nutshell, a salchichón sandwich is the best snack for the smaller ones and not the so small.
As it happens with all sausages, salchichón is usually consumed cut in slices or chunks. For a better tasting, it is recommended to cut it in thin slices. In order to achieve a more visually pleasing result, tilt the knife when cutting.
It is very common to eat it in sandwich or as a snack.
As it is seasoned with hot spices (mainly pepper) that bring flavor intensity, it is recommended to taste salchichón accompanied by young and fruity wines.
Manchego O.D. is also a good accompaniment to this tasty cold meat. The softness of the sausage is combined perfectly with the strong flavor of this cheese.
It is very common to eat salchichón in Spanish sandwiches and tapas. Despite not being widely used in the preparation of dishes of our cuisine, we recommend below some simple and delicious recipes:
- Tortilla cheese and salchichón:
Ingredients: two eggs, salchichón cut into small pieces, a few thin slices of cheese and salt.
Preparation: We beat two eggs with a pinch of salt. We add the sausage and cast the mixture onto the pan preheated with a splash of oil.
Then we put thin slices of cheese on top and carefully wrap the tortilla until it is perfectly cooked.
Serve on a plate and to enjoy it as a main dish or as a hot snack.
- Salchichón and cheese sandwich:
Ingredients: bread, salchichón, cured cheese and extra virgin olive oil.
Preparation: Open the bread in half, add a splash of oil (to taste) and then put the slices of cheese and sausage. Ready!
- Salchichón salad:
Ingredients: lettuce, sausage cut into chunks (preferably), goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, nuts, olive oil and vinegar.
Preparation: once lettuce is cleaned, we add cherry tomatoes cut in half, salchichón, a slice of goat cheese and walnuts halved. We dress this salad with oil and vinegar.
We recommend to accompany this dish with white wine.
- Salchichón and cheese puff pastry:
Ingredients: puff pastry base for cooking, grated cheese, salchichón in thin slices and an egg.
Preparation: We extend the pastry base and place the slices of sausage across the surface, leaving uncovered a centimeter of one side. Then we cover it with grated cheese. The amount of product used will depend on everyone's taste.
Carefully we roll up the pastry, starting with the side with filling and pressing lightly with our fingers. The side without salchichón will help to close the puff pastry and to be handled without any complications.
Once it is rolled, it is time to cut it into slices of a centimeter or so. In a over tray where we previously will have put greaseproof paper, we place the slices taking into account not putting them so close with each other as they will grow a little.
As a final step we brush the slices with a brush dipped in beaten egg and introduce them in the oven preheated to 180 degrees. In about fifteen minutes will be ready to eat.
You can taste them hot or cold. They are a delicious snack perfect for meetings with friends.
- Salchichón Pizza:
Ingredients: pizza base, tomato sauce, oregano, grated cheese, mozzarella cheese and sliced salchichón.
Preparation: We extend the pizza base. Helping us with a spoon or knife we extend tomato sauce over the entire surface. We place the mozzarella all over the base and then the slices of salchichón, distributing them evenly. Then we sprinkle over cheese and oregano to taste.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees and once it is ready, we introduce the pizza about 15 minutes or until it is ready. Carefully remove it from the oven and cut into those typical triangles.
This is an original way to make a pepperoni pizza with a Spanish taste.